HOUSTON – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District began repair work to the Addicks and Barker dams as part of interim risk reduction measures devised to further reduce risks associated with the existing structures while a permanent design solution is selected to replace the water control outlet structures in 2015.
A contract was awarded to Easky Construction LLC in the amount of $2,129,880 to repair joints within the water discharge tunnels and reinforce the spillways with steel plates at the west Houston dams with an estimated completion date of July 2014. Repairs will allow the Corps to resume higher safe discharges from the dams consistent with routine releases made two years ago.
“The Corps’ primary objective is to maintain public safety by ensuring the dams we own and operate are safe and the risks to the public are minimized,” said Col. Richard P. Pannell, USACE Galveston District commander. “We urge the public to use caution while hiking, biking and recreating in and around the dams’ water control structures while this work is taking place and to adhere to signage indicating temporary trail closures.”
According to Pannell, the Corps is making every effort to limit the impact that construction has on the recreating public, including areas that are heavily used by the public such as the Harris County Precinct 3 Terry Hershey Hike and Bike Trail System. While no trails are going to be blocked on a permanent basis, limited trail closures will be necessary during some phases of the construction.
Additionally, the areas alongside the trails may be restricted and increased construction activity and vehicle traffic may be noticed.
“Work should proceed rapidly, having little impact on the operations of the reservoirs,” said Pannell. “This work will provide the structures with additional support, ensuring their stability when flood waters are emptied from the reservoirs.”
This is the fifth contract awarded throughout the past four years to reduce risks associated with the dams. Previous work included filling voids beneath the water control outlet structures, constructing a granular filter to capture fine embankment and foundation material, and installing lighting and emergency generators at the outlet structures.
Constructed in the 1940s, both reservoirs are normally kept dry to preserve their overall capacity to impound storm water and reduce flood levels in Buffalo Bayou. Since their completion, the dams have prevented flood damage estimated to be more than $6.75 billion. When a rain event occurs, the gates are closed to the Addicks and Barker dams to reduce flooding below the reservoirs.
When the downstream runoff has receded to non-damaging stages, reservoir operations resume, the gates are opened, and water is released.
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